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Caribbean leaders meeting in Ottawa to talk climate, trade and instability in Haiti

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is welcoming a dozen leaders from across the Caribbean to Ottawa today, as part of a two-day summit aimed at forming closer ties with Canada.

The Caribbean Community includes 15 countries and five overseas territories, spanning from Bahamas to Trinidad and Tobago, but not including Cuba.

The group, known as CARICOM, works on initiatives ranging from inclusive economic growth to climate change — but lately, it’s been focused on the situation in Haiti.

De facto Haitian prime minister Ariel Henry will make his first visit to Canada since August 2021, when he assumed the role without having been elected, following the assassination of the country’s president.

Today’s meetings are set to involve three working sessions, and Trudeau is expected to meet individually with many leaders between these forums.

On Thursday, the leaders are expected to take part in a trade and investment roundtable, ahead of an afternoon press conference.

Among those slated to attend the meetings are Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who co-chairs a United Nations advocacy group for the Sustainable Development Goals along with Trudeau.

The prime ministers of the Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as well as Trinidad and Tobago are set to visit Ottawa. 

Also expected are the presidents of Guyana and Suriname, the foreign affairs minister of Grenada and the high commissioner of Antigua and Barbuda.

The Trudeau government has treated Haiti as one of its top foreign-policy priorities. 

This month, the UN Security Council approved a Kenya-led multinational military intervention to clear out gangs that have committed brazen violence and blocked access to essentials.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2023.

Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press